On the heels of making its debut during a trio of Virtual Open House events in recent weeks, the curtain now officially opens on a whole new way to see St. Michael's College School (SMCS).
Powered by state-of-the-art software, visitors can experience the school campus, classrooms, and other spaces through immersive 3D technology.
"Matterport is the platinum standard to experience virtual spaces in 3D," says Dave Lightbound, whose company Lightbound 3D Limited enabled the technology for SMCS. "It is built on a scalable platform allowing users to experience complex commercial spaces from the convenience of their digital devices."
Likened to video game technology, the platform features a range of functionality that permits users to conduct and navigate their own tour with the click of a button.
"A unique dollhouse view allows users to zoom in and out of the space to get perspective where they are in the space," says Jonas Lood, the company’s managing partner. "An auto-play feature is also available that automates the tour experience for those users that prefer a guided tour."
"There is a lot to love about 3D immersive photography,” adds Lightbound. “From the state-of-the-art features and applications to the integrations with IOS and augmented reality. It is hard to pick just one!"
Images of the spaces were filmed during the summer --- before COVID-19 safety measures were put in place at SMCS --- and again in the fall, with the current physical installations.
The new safety features range from the refitting of an entire room into a hand-washing station to portable barriers in the hallways, physically-distanced desks and hand sanitizing stands in every classroom, along with signage to maintain traffic flow in one direction throughout the school building.
The 3D virtual tour technology provides students and parents who have never visited the school with a new vantage point.
"We have the privilege of meeting with families with a wide range of experience with St. Michael’s College School, from families with sons already in the school to families who know us only through an internet search," says David Fischer, Director of Admissions.
"The 3D tour allows us to show them the salient features of our campus. It is a very powerful tool for connecting prospective families to the St. Michael’s College School community when we are not permitted to have visitors on campus," he says.
"There is a tremendous benefit in being able to offer this experience to families especially now but also in the future," says Kim Celotti, Admissions Assistant, who spends much of her time interacting directly with new families at different points throughout the admissions process.
"The virtual tour experience allows for a lot of flexibility. Families can view the tour at their leisure, on their own time and from the comfort of their home. They can go back to the tour as many times as they wish to view different aspects of the school and the programmes offered," she says.
"It is especially helpful to our international applicants who may not be able to get to the school for an actual visit during the application cycle,” adds Celotti. “The families and applicants that we work with now are very tech savvy; having this virtual tour provides one more touch point."
With COVID-19 putting a halt to in-person campus tours and Shadow Day visits for an undetermined amount of time, the 3D virtual tour option is filling an important void, permitting online visitors to research SMCS' offerings in a different way.
"This technology has allowed us in Admissions to be able to answer specific questions about the school that a family may have after having gone through the tour," says Chris De Piero '87, Associate Director of Admissions. "Specifically, a family could navigate the school in a very systematic way, or they can directly go to the areas of interest to them. With each point of interest, there is a little synopsis for the user to read through, or a video to watch, which provides the ability for them to gain further insight about that specific spot in the school."
"Ultimately, in lieu of being able to have an in-person tour with a prospective family, this has provided us with a strong alternative," he adds.
While touring a school from the comfort of a couch is an entirely different experience, there are other benefits to consider, says Lood, whose company brings this technology to clients in various industries from aviation and automotive to real estate and retail.
"Schools can save the countless hours of conducting physical tours - keeping enrolment active all year," he says. "Users can also drop into any space 24/7 to see how the rooms are laid out."
Conduct your own 3D Virtual Tour of St. Michael's College School.
Watch a Video Tour of St. Michael's College School.